I watched this movie Saturday night, but I haven't had a chance to write anything about it, considering the time change screwed me up something awful. This may be the first moment of my life since then that I don't feel extraordinarily tired, and that may have something to do with the can of Coke I drank...
So...I've been waiting in eager expectation (ever since I saw the trailer when I watched The Dark Knight this summer) for the movie version of Watchmen. I wasn't expecting much. After all, Alan Moore's graphic novel is a pretty thick text. It's literally thick, meaning there's a whole heck of a lot going on. It's also a thick text in terms of the layers and layers of social commentary, statements about heroic behavior, and overall insight into the human condition. It's dark. It's deep. It's got a lot of characters. In the end, I wasn't hopeful that Hollywood would be able to distill the essence of the comic into film. I was worried they would try to resurrect a hero from the story, would strip away his grungey outer layer, and set him up a moral center for the film (much the way Wanted did last year.)
I was blown away. Watchmen not only manages to convey the messages the Moore intended it to convey (which is ironic, considering that he's completely, totally, and in all other ways against the project), but it also manages to keep most of the story intact. (A few story lines, mostly the early stories of the Minutemen, the murder of the original Night Owl, and various other sundries were cut, but the loss of them wasn't detrimental to the overall impact of the film.) The thing that impressed me so much was the LOOK of the film. While there were some "updates" to some of the costumes (most notably Night Owl's. It looked very, um, nowish), they still felt loyal to the spirit of the original material. I had the sensation, while watching the film, that the graphic novel had come alive. It was as if the characters had stepped off the pages and began moving.
Alan Moore has said that he does not think that comics should be treated in the same way as movies are, because he says comics are a poor excuse for a film. They are a film which doesn't move, has so soundtrack, and no big name actors to attract readers. I can't disagree with Alan Moore. (Not just because doing so would be tantamount to sacrilege.)
What Watchmen does, however, in terms of exactly these three criteria, is flesh out the comic to a sense where it is readily available for everyone, even those who would never pick up a comic book. There's movement. The movie "moves" like a comic. Big name actors? How's Billy Crudup for you? Okay, wait, how's Billy Crudup NAKED for you? No wait, it gets better. How's Billy Crudup's naked PENIS for you?
Okay, that's a little crass, but hell. What's a better draw, seriously, especially considering the fact the film really has little appeal to most women?
GO SEE WATCHMEN. BILLY CRUDUP IS NAKED FOR ALMOST THE ENTIRE FILM.
And blue. But maybe I'd leave that out if I were trying to sell it it to my female friends. :)
The final most mind-blowingly excellent part of the movie is the soundtrack. OMFG!! From the first strains of Bob Dylan's "The Times, They Are A'Changin'" to "All Along the Watchtower," which underscores Night Owl's and Rorschach's approach of Ozymandias' stronghold, the music is effing PURRR-fect. Several times during the movie I had chills because of how absolutely apt the particular piece of music was to the film.
So...yeah, Moore's right. Comic books aren't film. But if you think you'll never read Watchmen, and have been told by all your geeky friends that you really should, then watch the movie. It's not a substitute, but it's a good film. It tells the story. It gets the themes across. And while you might walk out of the theater feeling just a tad bit disturbed, that's what the story is meant to do to you. Being a little disturbed is good for us. Really.